An Interview with Pat Zietlow Miller

Posted February 22, 2018 by cathyso3
Categories: Author Interview

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Me_Books

Pat Zietlow Miller is an author of renown. Her picture books have received starred reviews and multiple awards. Pat has an innate talent to create books children love. She is an amazing writer and gives the most incredible presentations. She is the author of eight published picture books and counting. The most recent is BE KIND. Pat is upbeat, clever, and funny, and I’m honored to call her my friend.  

Be_Kind

Welcome, Pat!

BE KIND is such a timely book in that we need to be reminded how a simple act of kindness can make a huge difference in our everyday lives. How did you come up with this idea? 

Well, I can’t take credit for the initial idea. Connie Hsu, my editor at Roaring Brook Press, came up with the book’s title and asked me to write it – for which I am so, so grateful.

But, I did come up with how the idea was executed. I remembered being a shy, quiet, nervous kid who wanted to do the right thing but sometimes did nothing because I was scared it would be taken the wrong way. It took me a while to learn how to step in and speak up and – I hope – be as kind on the outside as I wanted to be on the inside.

That’s why I wrote the book about a child who tries to be kind and then has to rethink things when it doesn’t go well and ask: What does it mean to be kind?

You’ve sold thirteen books and have received numerous awards and starred reviews. Amazing! Besides being a very talented author, what do you think you did right at the beginning of your writing career in order to have editors take notice of your manuscripts?

Well, editors didn’t notice for a while. I got 126 rejections before I sold my first book. I’d like to think that it was my focus on writing well and learning the craft of picture book creation that helped me out the most. I wanted to write the very best stories possible, and I focused on doing that, rather than jumping into chasing publication the first time I had a halfway decent draft.

Having said that, I’ll also say that some of the early stories I sent out were, indeed, awful. I didn’t know that at the time, though. I had written and rewritten and revised and reworked and I thought they were good to go.

I was wrong.

What type of writer are you? Do you always know the beginning, middle, and end of your story, or do just go with the flow of an idea?

I’m more of a go-with-the-flow person. I usually have the first sentence of my story when I start writing and an idea of how things will end. Then, I have to connect them in an engaging and plausible way. Which is not easy.

Do you ever give up on a manuscript you’ve been writing, and is there any part of writing you find particularly challenging?

Absolutely. Not all stories work right away and some don’t ever work. And you can’t know which is which until you try. Most of the stories I’ve given up on are ones that I know aren’t working, so I don’t feel bad about it. But there are one or two I’m quite fond of that have not yet found an editor who feels the same.

In terms of what I find challenging, I sometimes struggle with plot. I’m very good at lining up the words in an order that sounds good and flows well. But, I often have to go back and make sure the structure is there to support them.

You work full time. How do you eke out time for writing and everything else that comes with being a published author?

I’m perpetually exhausted? There is a lot to balance, and the only way I can do it is by focusing on whatever task is in front of me until it’s done and then moving on to the next thing. I do my writing at nights and on weekends and try to take care of the emails and requests as they come in so they don’t build up.

You have a wonderful agent. How did you go about finding the right person to represent you? And do you have any advice for those looking for representation?

I stumbled upon my agent, which isn’t necessarily a technique I recommend, although it certainly worked out well for me.

I sold my first book through the slush pile. After I got the offer, fellow writer Jessica Vitalis said to me: “You’re going to get an agent, right?” I said: “Oh, no. They only want picture book writers if they illustrate too, and I don’t.”

Jessica said: “You at least have to TRY!”

So, mostly to tell her I had tried, I emailed the book and the offer to Ammi-Joan Paquette, an agent I’d heard speak at a writing conference. She emailed me back asking what else I had. I sent her five other stories, we talked on the phone and then she signed me.

I later found out she’s part of one of the best-regarded literary agencies in the country and that she’s generally awesome, but it’s not like I did any research to find that out beforehand. So I got very lucky. I’d recommend that other writers do research.

How do you go about promoting your books?

I do a lot on social media. I truly enjoy Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, so I use them to talk about my books, to talk about other people’s books and to share photos of my kids and cats – which I don’t think increases sales, but makes me happy nonetheless.

I also blog at www.picturebookbuilders.com with several other children’s authors and illustrators. We feature picture books we love and talk about what makes them work.

What’s next? Any new books coming out?

LORETTA’S GIFT comes out in August from Little Bee Books. It tells the story of Loretta and her new baby cousin. She wants to get him the perfect gift, but what could that be?

Thanks, Pat. It has been such fun interviewing you. Best of luck with your upcoming books.

You can find more about Pat here:   www.patzietlowmiller.com

You can find BE KIND here:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

IndieBound 

Books A Million

See my review of BE KIND here.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

An Act of Kindness Goes a Long Way

Posted February 15, 2018 by cathyso3
Categories: Picture Books

Tags: , , , , ,

Hurry up! Move it! Hustle!

These words and phrases have become part of our vocabulary in our fast-paced society. We’re so caught up in our own lives sometimes we don’t even have time to share a smile or say hello. Are common courtesy and kindness disappearing? Not if talented authors like Pat Zieltow Miller have anything to say or write about it. In her newest book, BE KIND, she reminds us what kindness is and how a simple act of thoughtfulness can spread like ripples in a pond.

kind

When a young student spills grape juice all over her dress, all but one of her classmates laugh. The classmate who didn’t laugh remembers her mother’s words to always be kind. She tries several different ways to make the girl feel better but is unsuccessful. She then ponders what it means to be kind. She begins with small things and goes on to bigger acts of kindness that spill out of school, spread around town, and around the world. Jen Hill’s illustrations show a diverse group of individuals in various settings doing acts of kindness throughout the book. With simple but powerful text, this book demonstrates empathy and understanding for others. It’s a wonderful resource for discussions of what it means to be kind, and it’s a must-have book for children, parents, and educators.

What have you done to be kind today?

The Relatives Came

Posted February 8, 2018 by cathyso3
Categories: Laughter, Life

Tags: , ,

“One of the things that binds us as a family is a shared sense of humor.” ~Ralph Finnes

We came from California, from Texas, from New Hampshire, from Massachusetts, from Florida, from Washington state, and from Washington D.C.  The core group: A brother and his wife. Three sisters and their husbands. Along with us came our daughters, their husbands, and their children. Three generations of the family were together again. We hugged. We kissed. We laughed. We cried. We’re a small family with big hearts. In all, there were nineteen of us plus one on the way. We were missing only two who were unable to attend. While the children played, the adults gabbed, ate, drank, and laughed some more. For one long weekend, we were a wild and crazy family again.

IMG_4551

Sometimes you don’t realize how much you miss your family until you come together, and the love that surrounds you is magical.

 

“You go through life wondering what is it all about but at the end of the day it’s all about family.” ~ Rod Stewart

One of my favorite books is The Relatives Came written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Stephen Gammell.  It’s a Caldecott Honor book filled with charming illustrations and a story with heart.

relatives

Embrace your family!

“I think the family is the place where the most ridiculous and least respectable things in the world go on.” ~ Ugo Betti

 

 

 

 

 

World Read Aloud Day

Posted February 1, 2018 by cathyso3
Categories: Special Days

Tags: , , , , ,

It’s here!

2.0_Bear-Twitter

Check out World Read Aloud Day and find out all the things you can do to be an active participant.

What others have said about books and reading:

Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.          ~ Maya Angelou

A book is a dream that you hold in your hand. ~ Neil Gaiman

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all. ~ Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book. ~ Marcel Proust

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. ~ Dr. Seuss

Don’t waste another minute. Grab one of your favorite books and read it aloud to someone special!

 

Let There Be Light

Posted January 25, 2018 by cathyso3
Categories: Picture Books

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

When we moved to a new state and a new home in a new housing development, everything was … new. Meeting our neighbors helped us feel more comfortable in our surroundings, and as we cultivated new friends, smiles lit up our faces.

Sometimes you find neighbors don’t always agree with everything happening in a community, but when the developer of our neighborhood put a new “street light” at the entrance to our development, we all came together. The decision was unanimous. The light must go.

It’s wasn’t a street light. It was a  light pole that belonged in front of someone’s house to light up a driveway or walkway. If you blinked, you’d miss the tiny glow it cast. I kiddingly said, “Maybe the snowplow will take care of it for us.”

It did.

IMG_3214

As of now, the light post lies face down in a puddle of slush. It’s a sad ending to the tale of the little light that didn’t shine brightly enough. The homeowners are in the process of replacing the light with a genuine street light that has a luminosity that will guide all those who enter our community.

Speaking of light …

Here are two sparkling books that will throw light on the subject of light.

Rabbit

The Way Home in the Night written and illustrated by Akiko Miyakoshi, Kids Can Press, 2017

windows

Windows  is written by Julia Denos and illustrated by E.B. Goodale, Candlewick, 2017

Both of these books take place in the evening when lights illuminate the inside of neighborhood homes and businesses. Those looking in from the outside can catch a glimpse of what is happening on the inside. These slice of life images inspire curiosity, imagination, and a safe feeling of home and community. I especially love the lyrical language in The Way Home in the Night. The charming illustrations and text in both of these books make them a must read. And once you do,  I know you’ll agree with me.

Now, if you’re in the dark like we were this week because of a power outage, you might like this book.

blackout

Blackout is written and illustrated by John Rocco, Disney-Hyperion, 2011

When the lights go out, what’s a family to do? With the electronics down and out, a family learns how to reconnect with one another. Appealing text and illustrations show how family time can turn into quality time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say It with Flowers

Posted January 18, 2018 by cathyso3
Categories: Special Days

Tags: , , , , ,

“Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.” ~ Gerard De Nerval

Today is International Flower Day. Surprise someone with a bouquet.

Flowers are a beautiful way to say …

I love you

Happy Birthday

Get Well Soon

Thinking of You

Just Because

IMG_3215

Look at this bouquet! The unique combination of flowers puts a smile on my face. Flowers do that to me.

There are many artists who find flowers to be the perfect subject to paint. Two of my favorite artists who have painted flowers are Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. I think my all-time favorite is Georgia O’Keefe. Her big, bold compositions immediately capture your attention.

Check out these books and introduce your youngsters to some famous artists and their painting techniques. van gogh

van Gogh and the Sunflowers written and illustrated by Laurence Anholt, Barron’s Educational Series, 2007

Linnea

Linnea in Monet’s Garden written by Christina Björk and illustrated by Lena Anderson, Source Books Jabberwocky, 2012

georgia

Through Georgia’s Eyes written by Rachel Rodriguez and illustrated by Julie Paschkis, Henry Holt & Company, 2006

hawaii

Georgia in Hawaii written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, Harcourt Children’s Books, 2012

“The earth laughs in flowers.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

Books + Imagination = A Great Adventure

Posted January 11, 2018 by cathyso3
Categories: Picture Books

Tags: , , , , ,

One flashlight. Three kids. An adventure in the making.

Author, Matt Forrest Esenwine, and illustrator, Fred Koehler team up to create an imaginative adventure that begs the reader to keep turning the pages.

flashlight

Flashlight Night, written in rhyme, begins with three children sitting in a tree house filled with books. When the older boy turns on the flashlight, the night comes alive, and so do their imaginations. The children embark on a grand backyard adventure following the path of the light. Each page turn brings the children into a new adventure. A kitten becomes a tiger, the underneath of a deck reveals an Egyptian tomb, a pool becomes an ocean with a pirate and a ship, sailing through rough waters where a sea monster suddenly appears. A stuffed teddy becomes an enormous bear that helps save the three adventurers and lets them return safely to their tree house. Keep a close eye on Fred Koehler’s illustrations done in pencil and digitally colored. They cleverly reveal what classic books motivate the children’s adventure.

What light shines on your imagination?


%d bloggers like this: